This project was carried out in three phases, from 1992 to 2000. It was an application of the large Prema 1990-2000 programme, launched by ICCROM, and part of the activities of UNESCO's World decade for cultural development.
The Phase 1 of the project was a course in preventive conservation which took place from 24 August to 20 November 1992. 16 professionals from Benin and 4 from Togo attended this course. The course was held within the Abomey Historical Museum which therefor was used as an experimental tool. The pedagogical content of the course was designed in partnership with the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne. The most significant result of this first phase was the safeguarding of the museum's collections by the making of a new storeroom. This first operation was financed by the German Cooperation programme, the Getty Grant programme and the ACCT (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Phases 2 and 3 were mainly financed by the Italian Cooperation programme's funds in trust at UNESCO.
Phase 2 lasted from 1995 to 1997 and it's main objectives were: the documentation of the architecture of the Abomey palace-museum site - then on the List of world heritage in danger, the training of staff on the management of the architectural aspects of the site and the training of executives on the enhancement of existing collections. This phase enabled:
- the publication of 2 documents on the circumstances and processes of degradation of the Royal palaces of Abomey and
King Glèlè's ajalala - Photo T. Joffroy, CRATerre
- the training of the Head architect of museums of Benin and his colleague on the problems of conservation of earthen buildings by the CRATerre center of Grenoble;
- the specialisation at the Musée de la Civilisation of Quebec of 3 Beninese executives on exhibition techniques, the designing by the latter of a new permanent exhibition and
- the partial renewal of the permanent exhibition dating from the sixties.
Phase 2 was ended by an international conference organised at Abomey in September 1996 on the theme "Past, Present and Future of the royal palaces and sites of Abomey".
The specific objective of Phase 3, the last of the project, is the consolidation of the technical and professional skills of the Abomey Museum in order to enable it, as from 2001, to be entirely self-financed for it's up-keep (buildings and existing collections) and partially self-financed for it's animation and research programme. In order to attain this objective actions have been defined and carried out around 4 guidelines: Management and promotion, Animation, Architecture, Collections. This phase enabled to stop the processes of permanent degradation and decrepitude of the site and museum, to complete the new permanent exhibition and to set up management tools.
The present situation of the Abomey palace-museum is far from what it was at the beginning of the project. However, to maintain what was achieved depends on the permanent attention of the museum and it's parent institution. The Abomey operation also provided a training environment on professional expertise for many Beninese and African executives. More specifically, the phase 3 has enabled EPA to increase it's mastery and know-how in the superintendence of large and complex programmes.